Southern KY Guard Unit Headed to Iraq

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London, Laurel County, KY (WVLT) - Mothers, fathers and wives of Kentucky soldiers are bracing for a long year.

Dozens of National Guard troops left Southern Kentucky today for Mississippi, a training stop before Iraq.

Some mothers, fathers and wives of Kentucky soldiers say it's going to be a long year.

Dozens of National Guard troops left Southern Kentucky for Mississippi Monday morning, from there they'll be going to Iraq.

The soldiers say they're proud to serve, their families say it's though to say goodbye.

Southeastern Kentucky may look the same as it did yesterday. But there's something missing here now. Dozens of sons, brothers, husbands and fathers are no longer here. They're being deployed to Iraq.

"I believe God has a plan and this is the plan God has taken our life on," Kirsten Shoumacher says she supports her husband's Chris one hundred percent. He and others will be gone for Thanksgiving. Gone for Christmas. Gone for birthdays and anniversaries. But they say they won't be gone without purpose."

"So I'm just happy about going over there to help them out. So they can have a life like we do over here in the U.S.," says Chris Shoumacher.

"Yeah I like the rush. I really want that combat patch over here," says Anthony Liford.

The 80 soldiers make up about 500 that are already being deployed to Iraq. That's the largest number of Kentucky soldiers ever deployed to that part of the world.

A group General Donald Storm calls the finest in the nation. "You're going over there to make a difference and a contribution."

But it's still hard; daughters will be without daddies, wives without husbands and sons without fathers.

"As a soldier I'm proud to serve with him. As a father, I'm scared to death," says Tony Liford, Anthony's father.

The troops will be assisting security forces already in Iraq.

The number of Kentuckians now serving overseas is the largest since World War II.